July 23, 2020

RIP Steve Lacey

I just realized that some readers of this blog also used to read Steve Lacey's blog (Ewen for one) and should be informed of the sad news that he passed away last Monday, aged 57.

He had been bravely fighting lymphoma since 2015, and while he won several battles, he finally lost the war.
He was in and out of the hospital for several years, then went back in about six months ago and while treatments seemed promising, the doctors ultimately could not save him. It was a real shame that because of the corona virus, his friends could not visit him over the last few months.

As the doctors said the end was near, they brought him home on Monday morning, but he passed away in the afternoon - shockingly sudden.

He was a valuable member of my running club, a good runner and a truly great guy, and will be greatly missed by many people.

One of the highlights of his life, I'm sure he would agree, was the 2:54 marathon he ran in 2005, which is still a source of inspiration to me (in fact, it got me out running today in the rain). This was a fantastic achievement, given that he was not a naturally talented runner. He simply researched what he had to do, worked damn hard and accomplished his goal.

Here is his blog post about it - read all the way to the comments and profile:


As for me, I'm training well but slowing down - under 21:00 for 5k is no longer doable (maybe in the fall when it's cooler...or maybe not). Running six days a week with one interval workout, one long run of 16k (at present), and four 10k runs with 5 easy, 5 tempo. And an extra rest day as necessary. Rather than doing 80-90k a week, this keeps my legs fresher and pain-free.

Hope you are all (if anyone is still reading this blog) well and able to run. I believe I read that Melbourne is in lockdown again....

Ewen, if you read this, please pass along the sad news to anyone else who knew Steve.

All the best,

February 5, 2020

Update and Goal

Hello there. It's been a while. Shamed by my friend Padraig, who writes a blog post almost every day, I've decided to stop procrastinating and write something.

I manage to recover from the calf tear and train a little bit before running a 10K race in Huntington Beach, California on Dec. 29th. It was a flat course along the beach road. I ran 47:26, however, even though I wasn't in very good shape it really did seem faster so I think the course was about 300m (1 minute) long. I actually felt quite good on the 5k back and was moving well. Won my (small) age group and was 18th out of 221, but of course lots of folks were just out there for the fun of it.

I was there because we were visiting our daughter in Los Angeles. Which means I ate way too much good food and gained weight that I'm struggling to lose. This despite my avowal to become a vegetarian, mostly successful, after having watched The Game Changers on Netflix. This is a very persuasive documentary about how good a plant-based diet is for athletes. If it works for top ultra runner Scott Jurek it should work for the rest of us, right? Seriously, I think it's a good lifestyle choice.

At any rate, I trained pretty well in January and am ramping up the distance with a goal of 90km a month by the end of March. In particular, I really need to get back to a long run (24-30k) once a week.
I've totally lost my speed, though, as evidenced by my slow times on the club wednesday night interval workouts. I'm hoping this is due to a combination of extra weight and not being in good shape, and the speed, what still remains of it, will return over the next two months.

However, the main reason I wanted to write this post was to share with you my primary goal for the year, which is...do not get injured! Can I go an entire year without an injury? Can any runner? I certainly hope so, and I'm certainly going to try. Just being very cautious all the time, and especially after races. Let's see if it's possible....

I hope my blogging and running friends in Australia are not and will not be badly affected by the fires - here's hoping for rainy days ahead!

November 9, 2019

Throw Away Your Old Ultralight Shoes

That's my advice after wearing a pair to do a 5,000m time trial. It went well, ran 20:50 at the multiclub TT on a cool, windless evening with pacemakers (stayed on the 21-minute person's shoulder). Took the next day off, then ran 14k the following day, which was ok. Then the next day, my right calf started to hurt after 5k. Turned around and jogged home. Tried to run the next day but only got 2k before it got sore. Took another day off, then tried to jog but only got 8 minutes before it got sore - more sore than the other day.

So it looks like at least six days off - today is the third day of rest and it's still very tight and a bit sore. Maybe more than six days....

Ever since tearing a calf muscle about two years ago, I'm sensitive about my calves, but obviously not sensitive enough.  I've used those shoes for a time trial before, with no ill effects, but I guess I was just lucky.

So my advice is: super light shoes with very little cushioning? Trash them!

October 19, 2019

Age Group Win

Having successfully gotten through my hernia operation and recovery period, which meant I didn't run for most of August, I regained enough fitness in September to win my age group at the Nagareyama 10K On October 6th. There were 4,000 total runners in the race, 197 men in the age group — good turnout of 70-year-olds.
The time was ok but not great — 43:32. As I said when people asked if I ran a good time: good enough.
I'm sure I can run faster than that, although the days of sub-40 are gone, I've come to realize.
The weather was a coolish 22C, but it was quite humid, in fact, it rained a bit during the race. That may have affected me the last few k — I planned to pick up the last 3k, but that didn't happen, although the last one was faster. Average was 4:21/k.

Next race is the Toda Half on Nov. 17th. I'm a bit apprehensive — running a good half is a lot harder than running a good 10k, and I haven't been doing much distance. Well, we'll see what happens.

July 12, 2019


Well, I vowed to stay injury-free, which I have. Running injuries anyway. But...I developed a hernia! It's an inguinal hernia, which is a small bump in the groin area - basically, the intestine coming though a hole in the abdominal cavity.
Men are susceptible to this as they get older (8 times more than women).

Sounds bad, but it's not, really. I'd had this bump for a while, which I thought nothing of, then it began to hurt a bit on a run about two weeks ago, and I realized, Oh, that's a hernia.

I had been running six days a week, and had ramped up the mileage the previous three weeks. So I cut back to five days a week, and it didn't hurt anymore. Even during a 5k time trial and 1000m x 6 interval workout.

The problem is, hernias don't heal on their own. They might not get worse, but on the other hand, they might. And I didn't want it to get worse in October or November when I have races (especially in the middle of a race!), or in September when I have to train harder for those races.

So I decided to have surgery to fix it. It's minor surgery - they make an incision and cover the thing with a piece of mesh. (There's also another type, but this one is simpler).
I need to lead our Kamakura beach run on the 28th, so will go into the hospital on the 29th, for a 3-4 day stay. Then the doctor says I can't run for a month (web says 3 weeks, so I may try it then).

So basically no running in August, although I can walk and bike. I'll try to walk a lot.

If it ain't one thing, it's another!

If anyone has had experience with a hernia, let me know.

Hope you don't get any bumps.

June 6, 2019

Training is Going Well

Hi. Since my last post of April 21, there has been no major news, but I do have a few things to report.

The American School in Japan track season ended well, with my kids (800/1600/3200) winning a few titles at the Kanto Finals meet and the Far East meet (international and military schools). Others were close, with excellent performances, and some of the younger kids exceeded their own expectations and showed great potential. So it was a very rewarding season.

On May 12th, the World Relays were held in Yokohama. Two other ASIJ coaches and five people from the club attended the Sunday events, and it was a lot of fun. It's great to see the pro runners up close. I particularly liked the 4 x 200m, which of course is not run very often, but is a really exciting event. Being twice as long as the 4 x 100, it really gives you a sense of how fast these athletes are.

Then on May 18th, four other guys and I from the club ran an ekiden at a US army base in Yokohama. We each ran 1.45k six times, totalling a bit more than the marathon distance. We ran each one all out, with about 23 minutes rest in between. Usually I don't like this type of ekiden (and in fact didn't realize it was this type when I signed up), but it turned out to be fun. It helped that the weather was nice (but a bit hot and windy) and the race atmosphere was very pleasant. I ran 5:56 for almost all of the legs, or about 4:09/km. Was happy to maintain the pace for each. We came in 7th out of 34 men's teams, not bad since the first 3 or 4 teams were young and fast, and most teams had more than 5 runners (could have up to 10). There were also 113 mixed teams, so next year we'll go back with some women and try to win that.

The next run of note was the club 5,000m time trial on May 29th, where I ran 21:23 in hard rain. Not particularly good, but not bad, considering the conditions and that I miscounted the laps so didn't kick the last lap (couldn't see the damn watch).

That week (last week) and this week I've started my summer training program, which is:
Wed: track interval workout - 12k
Thurs: 10k comfortably (may get a bit faster as I get stronger)
Fri: 10k same + gym workout (mostly core, some pullups and weights)
Sat: 10k same
Sun: 18k, building up to 30k or even a bit more
Mon: 10k easy
Tues: rest (gym workout)
So with 30k, that's 82k per week and if I can get the 10ks up to 12k, that would be 90k.

I have no aches or pains at all, so I'm hoping to be consistent with this for the next 3 months, which should get me into good shape (meaning legs strong enough to handle a hard pace for a half marathon) for a 10K in October and a Half in November. Will do some tempo runs in September to work on sustained speed.

BTW, my track workout last night was 6 x 1000m in 4:21 (warmup), 3:55, 4:01, 4:03, 4:05, 3:54 (about 3:30 walk in between).

Let me know what you think of that program.

Stay injury-free!

April 21, 2019

A Hot Half

Ran the Adachi Goshiki Sakura Half Marathon today. Adachi is an area of eastern Tokyo where the Arakawa river is, goshiki means five colors and sakura are cherry blossoms. I guess they have five kinds of sakura along the river.

Three other club members and I ran it and it was hot!! I was aiming for about 1:45 — 5:00/k pace, but assumed I would slow down after 15k, which is exactly what happened. Finished in 1:46:56, not bad, considering the heat (24C, bright sun) and that I hadn't run for 6 weeks in Feb/March and hadn't trained much for the race.

It was a nice race - maybe 300 in the 10k, 5-600 in the half. Lots of enthusiastic staff and pacers for about 7 different groups from 4:00 to about 7:00 per k. The pacers helped me a lot. The course was a 7k out and back, run 3 times.

Photos: With 5:00/k pacers and then starting to drift behind them at 16k.